Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Thursday October 13, 2016

Saturday evening, October 8, 2016 after our plane arrived in Salt Lake City and we visited with all of our children and grandchildren we had Trevor and Nichole drive us straight to Lois's house.  Lois took Reed's Mom there to stay until she passes away.

It was so sad to see Reed at his mothers bedside sobbing away.  He feels so bad that he will not be able to sit and talk with her and tell her about our mission.  It was nice to visit with some of his brothers and sisters which we haven't seen for two years.

We went home exhausted, glad to be home yet sad to see Reed's Mom like that.

Reed went out to visit with Lois and to be with his mother every day.  On Thursday, October 13, 2016, at 5:10 p.m. Reed's Mother took her last breath while Reed was sitting in the bedroom holding his mother's hand.  We will really miss her but are so glad she is no longer suffering.

We were so glad we did not wait until our original release date which would have been the 14th of October to come home.   Reed would have missed this time to sit with his mother and just be with her.

We held her viewing at Myers Mortuary on Monday, October 17, 2016.  It was very nice to visit with family and friends.  It was nice for Reed and his siblings to hear all the kind words about his mother.  She was always very service and caring oriented.

On Tuesday, October 18, 2016, we held her funeral at her church building on Rushton in Ogden, Utah.   We had some very dear friends and family members come to pay their respects and support Reed and his family.  It was a nice service and good weather for the funeral and burial at the Ogden cemetery.

Margaret and Lois (Reed's two remaining sisters)

Reed and his siblings.
Front row:  Lois, Reed, Margaret
Back row:  Ben, Don, Ken, Scott

Reed's siblings and all their spouses at the graveside.

Brynlee, Nada and Justin walking to find DeLeuw's grave.  She is Nada's sister who passed away while we were serving our mission.  Justin knew where it was and was showing Nada.

Clay, Becky, Kay, Artie, Trevor and Nichole at the luncheon back at the church.

Lois, standing, Zack, Addi, Jaki, Will, Nada and Brynlee

Family and close friends eating the luncheon the good Relief Society sisters fixed for us after the funeral.

Jane, Sally and Aibree

Emma, Kate, Lana, Noah, Kanyon, Bryce and Jane.  The children and grandchildren have been so supportive and loving.  We feel so blessed to have such a wonderful family.

We will miss Laurel Clara Bowen Spencer, Reed's Mother, but we know we will see her again.

We are so grateful to have served our mission and be able to come home and be here with the family during this special time.  This will be our last post since we are home to stay for a while.  We will report on the 30th of October, 2016, and then our mission will be complete.

We love you all.  Signing out for the last time from our New Zealand Mission.

Elder and Sister Spencer (aka) Reed and Nada!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Monday, October 3, 2016, we were invited to Jeremy and Melissa's home for dinner and family home evening.  They are so kind and it was such a nice evening.  Melissa fixed a wonderful meal and Kathy and Jim Henderson did the lesson and Reed and I planned a couple of games.  Jeremy works for the church schools and we have really enjoyed his friendship and getting to know him.  What a cute family they have.

Summer and Leila Higgins.  They are so fun to be with and speak so kindly.  It was a great evening.

Summer, Melissa, Leila and Jeremy Higgins.  We feel so blessed to be in their home and share a friendship with them.
On Thursday morning, October 6, 2016, we were awakened by the FaceTime ringing.  We knew something had to be wrong.  Christy was calling us to tell us Reed's mom was in the hospital and unresponsive.  They thought she would die as soon as they took the oxygen off of her.  We stayed on the call for about an hour but she seemed to stabilize so they moved her to a room.  Reed decided that he felt very strongly that we needed to go home.  Oh my, how do we wrap up our last eight days of  transferring files, deleting things, packing, cleaning and leaving our mission and New Zealand into two days.

We called President Balli and he said that we needed to go home and he would call church travel and okay them to change our flights from the 14th to the 8th of October.  I felt very sad for Reed that he would most likely never get to spend any time with his mother and share these wonderful 23 months with her.

We went to the office and told everyone that we would be leaving on Saturday instead of on the 14th of October.  They were all shocked and I was in tears.  Luckily we had already planned our farewell luncheon with all the senior couples for today at noon.  We all went to Daikoku, a Japanese restaurant, for lunch.  It is really good food but to be with every senior couple that works at the Area Office was so nice.  We will really miss our association with them.

Elder and Sister Champlin and Elder and Sister Streeter eating lunch at Daikoku a really nice Japanese restaurant.  They cook your food right in front of you

Sister Seamons, Nada, Reed, Sister Collins waiting for them to begin cooking our food.  We really enjoyed being with all these wonderful senior couples for a final meal.
Later that day we got confirmation that our flights had been changed to Saturday, October 8th and that Reed's mother was never going to wake up because she had a major stroke.  Lois took her home to her house so she would be with family until her heart stopped beating.

I spent the evening cleaning, doing laundry, packing and having couples come over to see what they wanted in our cupboards and closets.

Friday, October 7, 2016, we got up and went for our final early morning walk.  I took four sweaters down to Sister Streeter who was very glad to get them and she came up to the flat and took most of the rest of the food I had left in the cupboards.

We went to work for our final day.  Oh my it was very hard to keep back the tears for me.  Some people were gone that we really wanted to say goodbye to.  That was even harder.  Paul told us they had a big Area Office farewell party planned for us on Monday when everyone was back.  So because that could not happen he asked if they could at least take us out to lunch today.  Paul, Ariel, Dallas, Reed and I walked across the street to "Honey's" and had a very nice lunch.  It was so good to just sit and talk and enjoy some quiet time together.

Nada trying hard to get the last newsletter finished and files transferred to the shared drive.  It is hard to get seven days worth of work done in two days.

Ariel paying for our lunches at "Honey's" restaurant.  It was really good food and nice to take a few minutes out of a very hectic day.

This is the Area Office building.  Our office is on the ground floor on the right.

This is where our desks were for the last 23 months.  Reed always told everyone we were in the hallway and basically we were.  This is the entrance into the Self-Reliance and Humanitarian offices.

We finally got home about 6:00 p.m. and started cleaning.  We had couples come over to finish taking our food, containers and plants.  Sister Maughan came over and helped wipe out cupboards.  It was very kind.  About 8:30 p.m. Loni, Jonathan and Luisa came over with gifts, cake and to say goodbye.  It was so kind of them.  We will really miss these kids.  This is Nada and Loni, they all wanted pictures and so did we.

Jonathon Seve, Nada and Luisa Vaifale.  Luisa works in the office with us.  She is the administrative assistant for Humanitarian services.

Renee Solomon and her husbank Rikki came about 9:00 p.m. to say goodbye.  Renee and I have become very close.  We will really miss her and her family.  They brought a beautiful New Zealand Greenstone necklace that had a wonderful meaning with it.  It was so thoughtful.  I stayed up until 1:00 a.m. cleaning under and behind the refrigerator, washer and finishing up the second bathroom and getting laundry done.

Saturday morning, October 8, 2016 our final day in New Zealand.  We got up early and tore the bed apart.  Kathy Henderson agreed to help me wash some of the bedding so I took that down to her by 8:00 a.m.  I washed, cleaned and we kept having people stop by to say goodbye.  Leai came over to say goodbye and I was able to give her all the food and some kitchen items I didn't know what to do with.  She was so grateful to get them because they just got married and   these kitchen items are expensive.  We went over to the office to drop some things off and I transferred the last few files I needed to transfer and sent a couple of emails.
At 4:00 p.m. I walked back to our flat from the office for the final time.  I put the finishing touches to our packing.  I did not get the flat vacuumed but everything else was spick and span.  Kathy and Jim said they would vacuum and finish dusting the living room when they got back from taking us to the airport.
Anne and David Maughan came up to say goodbye and took our last couple of bags of rubbish out for us.  There were a few tears as we waved goodbye to them.

We left our flat for the last time at 4:30 p.m.  This had really become home and it was very hard to leave, knowing we will most likely never be back.

Jim and Kathy Henderson took us to the airport.  They have become such dear friends.  We will really miss them.  Reed sat in the front seat and took pictures of places and signs that had become such a part of our lives.  This is the final time we will see the Sky City Tower.

We took this Gillies exit every week when we went to church and the dozens of times we picked up or dropped people off at the airport.

There has been construction on this road by the airport the whole 23 months we have been living in New Zealand.  These pictures will bring back lots of memories.

After we got our luggage all checked in we had people there to send us off.  Leai and Epoki came and put these candy bar leis around our necks.  Leai was the first YSA we met the first Sunday we were in New Zealand and attended the Saineha Ward.  She was the YSA rep and we have remained good friends.  She and Epoki were married in June.

Aaron, Ariel Wetere, Reed, Nada, Pamela and Paul Reid and Kathy Henderson.  These are our good friends from our office and we have been able to get to know their families as well.

Oscar Utai and his fiancee coming down the escalators as Reed and Nada are headed up.  They came back up to say good-bye.  They were wondering where we were.

Judee and her two nieces who also gave each of us a candy bar lei,  Brother and Sister Renata, Oscar Utai and his fiancee, Nada, Reed, Pamela, L'Rey Renata, Kathy and Jim Henderson, Aaron and Ariel Wetere all come to tell us goodbye.  We felt so loved and blessed that they were there.  It was so hard not to cry.  They all stayed and waved to us as we went through the departure gate.

Elder and Sister Spencer getting ready to head through the departure gate.  We will really miss these wonderful friends.

Oscar and his finance, Oscar was one of our YSA when we served in Samoa and lives in New Zealand now, Nada and Reed's final moments at the New Zealand airport.  Our plane left New Zealand at 7:45 p.m. and we said goodbye to New Zealand for the final time.  We have loved every minute of our mission and have met so many wonderful people.  We did not think it would be this hard to leave.

We had a long tiring flight.  Almost 12 hours from New Zealand to San Francisco.  We had a three hour layover and then arrived in Salt Lake City at 6:10 p.m. on Saturday, October 8, 2016.  We got back the day we lost two years ago when we flew to New Zealand.  As we flew over Utah we realized what a desert we really do live in.  New Zealand was so green and lush and Utah is so dry.  We stopped and put our candy bar leis back on so the kids could see how loved we felt when we left.  This is the beautiful sight we saw as we came around the corner at the Salt Lake City airport.  All 25 of our children, in-laws and grandchildren were there to welcome us home.  What a glorious sight.

Reed and Nada coming around the corner to the baggage claim area at the Sale Lake City airport.  We were the last people from our flight because we stopped to put our candy leis on.

Grandpa being hugged and loved by all the grandsons.  Grandma being loved by all the granddaughters.

Everyone talking and deciding who was going to ride home with who.  The kids were all so happy to see us and helped us get our luggage and they all wanted a candy bar from our leis.  They thought they were so awesome and really enjoyed the chocolate.  What a wonderful homecoming.  We were so tired but so grateful to be home and be with all our family that we love so much.  We are so blessed.

We then drove to Lois's house, Reed's sister, so Reed could see his mother.  What a very sad reunion.  I felt so sad for Reed.  We stayed for an hour then headed home.  All the family met us there for pizza because we were all so hungry and so they would be there when we were released.

Brad Waddoups, our Stake President and his wife Linda, came to our home at 9:00 p.m.  We visited, shared our testimonies and then he released us.  We are no longer missionaries.

We are so grateful for this wonderful 23 months we were able to serve our Heavenly Father in New Zealand.  We met so many new and interesting people and visited so many different fascinating places.  We have learned so much and felt our Heavenly Father's love and direction over and over again.  We hope we have been able to make some kind of a difference in the education desires and awareness of the saints in the Pacific Area.  We know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true.  We know that Jesus is our savior and we are so grateful for his Atonement.  We know the Book of Mormon is true and that we have a living Prophet today and other general authors who lead and guide us.  Thank you for sharing this fantastic journey with us.  This will be our final Pacific Area, New Zealand Auckland Mission entry.  We are so blessed.

Until next time, Love Elder and Sister Spencer (aka Reed and Nada)

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Thursday, September 29, 2016.  We got up, packed the car and headed North to Paihia.  We checked into the Dolphin Motel and then walked down to the wharf.  We took the 1:15 boat cruise out to Hole in the Rock.  It was a beautiful, warm day.  The water was nice and calm, the sun was shining and the temperature was very pleasant.  This is the best weather we have had since Justin and Lana have been here.

We stopped in Kawakawa on the way to see the fancy toilets.  This artist came and designed these toilets using tiles, bottles and glass.  They really are way different than anything else we have ever seen.  It helped to revitalize Kawakawa because people drove off the beaten path to see these toilets and then stopped for lunch, dinner and other things.

Reed and Nada sitting on a bench in Kawakawa that was created by this same artist out of tiles.  This was new since we were here in 2014.

We walked through this walled off artist park with all these different shapes created from tile and glass.  It was interesting and a nice break.

This is where we catch the boat in Paihia to take the Bay of Islands Cruise.  The building to the right is the gift shop, a restaurant and where you get tour information.

The captain cruised through the Bay of Islands and took us right out to Hole in the Rock.  I guess being able to make it through has something to do with the tide.  We were so excited because he said he thought we might make it through this time.

We did go through.  Yeah!  This is our fourth cruise on the Bay of Islands and the first time we have ever got to go through the hole.  It is much bigger than it looks from the outside.

Nada at the front of the boat while we are inside the Hole in the Rock.  He stopped inside the hole for about 10 minutes talking and just letting people look around and enjoy.  It was pretty spectacular.  When we first entered you could feel the current switch directions and move the boat around.

We are still inside the Hole in the Rock.  The people on the top level of the boat  did not look like they were very far from the top of the cave.  We were so excited to finally be able to say we went through the Hole in the Rock!!!

This is the lighthouse right before the rocks that have the Hole in the Rock.  It is a very beautiful scene.  You can see how blue the water was today and sunshine.

We did not see even one dolphin.  We have always seen a lot of dolphins when we have done this cruise before.  We did see these seals out sunning themselves.

Lana, Nada and Justin enjoying the beautiful weather and the sea.

Some of the islands are quite large.  Some have people living on them, some are used for recreational purposes and others are uninhabited.

We got off the boat on Russell Island and walked around.  We had never walked all around the town and residences before.  We came to this really cool graveyard inside the fence of this church.  It is the Oldest Church in New Zealand established in 1836.  There were some very old graves here.

Looking out at the pier on Russell Island.  

This is the Duke of Marlborough the oldest hotel in New Zealand.  There are some very nice old buildings on this island.  We then took the ferry back over to Paihia.

Looking back on Russell as we leave to head back to Paihia.  What a beautiful day we had.  We had a nice dinner at Jimmy Jack's Rib Shack and then went to our motel and played some games and went to bed tired.

On Friday morning September 30, 2016, we had to get up early and catch the bus in the front of our motel at 7:15 a.m. for a day trip up to Cape Reinga.

First stop of the day we stopped at the Manginangina Forest to see some very large Kauri trees.  This is the walkway that New Zealand built when the Queen of England visited and it cost one million dollars.  She walked on it about 50 feet said something about being lovely and went back to her car.  At least the rest of us get to enjoy it now.

Nada, Lana and Justin standing in front of some beautiful Kauri trees  They grow so straight and tall and are pretty magnificent.

It had rained really hard during the night  As we were driving along and the sun started warming up there was this very picturesque mist laying all over the mountains.  It was very beautiful to look at.

Next stop was Taipa Beach where some people had morning tea.  When you go on these tours they stop about every two hours for a bathroom break or a tea break.

These trees were so beautiful and bright red.

We stopped here for lunch of fish and chips.  This lady approached us and asked if we were members.  She is also a member.  We had a nice visit with her.

We stopped here to ride down the sand dunes.  We only took videos so I don't have a picture of any of us coming down the hill on the boogie boards but all of us went down a couple of times and had a lot of fun.

Next stop was Cape Reinga.  We hiked up to the top of the hill and you can see where the lighter water is the Tasman Sea and the darker water, the Pacific Ocean meet.  It is beautiful

Lana, Justin, Nada and Reed with the meeting of the two oceans and the Cape Reinga lighthouse behind us.

Beautiful view of the sand dunes and the northern tip of New Zealand.

Lana, Nada and Justin trying to decide which direction to take!

Leaving the beautiful Cape behind us as we head back to the bus.

This is our tour bus after spending a few minutes driving along 90 Mile Beach.  He said the sand was too soft to drive very far which was a bit disappointing.

The bus driver showing Justin and Lana how to catch clams.  He took a bag home for dinner.  We got back to our motel about 7:30 p.m.  Walked to town and had pizza, salad and ice cream for dinner.  It was another fabulous day in the Bay of Islands.  We have enjoyed visiting all these beautiful places again and showing them to Justin and Lana.  If you ever come to New Zealand there is so much to see.  Everywhere you go is beautiful

Saturday morning, October 1, 2016, we got up, packed the car and headed back to Takapuna.  We drove over to the Waitangi Treaty grounds so they could see them but did not go through the museum.  We then drove a little north to see Haruru Falls.  Another place we had never been before.  It was a pleasant walk and the falls were very nice.  They were about 15 minutes outside of Paihia.

We then started the drive home and next stop was Whangerai Falls.  We did not take the whole hike but these are very pretty falls.  You can hike to the bottom of them but we were running out of time.

We made it to Matakana Market but just barely.  Most of the food places had already shut down so we did not get to eat.  They did get to see some of the stalls and why we enjoy coming here.

We decided to drive over to Omaha Beach.  Right as we got out of the car it started to pour rain and was very windy.  We still walked along the beach.  There were all these very colorful jellyfish all along the beach.

This is a very clean, long beach.  Quite a few people were out jogging.  We walked for about half an hour and then the rain stopped so we just strolled for a while and enjoyed our last day on the beach.  We have found whole sand dollars here before but only pieces of some today.

There must have been some kind of sailing race going on but there was no one around to ask.

We then stopped at Parry's Kauri Park.  This is the McKinney Kauri that is over 800 years old.  You can see how big it is around.  

Reed and I thought we better have our picture taken in front of the McKinney Kauri since we have been here so many times and brought so many different people here.  This has been one of our favorite places to visit.  This is so New Zealand to us.  We had such a wonderful trip and saw so much.  We got home about 6 p.m. and ate a nice dinner and started packing a suitcase full of our things that they are taking home for us.

On Sunday we helped them get packed up and headed to church a little early so we could stop at One Tree Hill.  This is such a great 360 degree view of the downtown Auckland area and all the surround areas.

It is so green right now.  It was cloudy and rainy again.

We had a great day at church and they asked us to share our testimonies again.  This was our final goodbye and it was nice to share our testimonies with Justin and Lana there.  After dinner and as we got ready to head to the airport we took them up on top of Mount Victoria so we could watch the sun go down and have a final look at the Harbor Bridge, Devonport, Hauraki Bay and downtown Auckland.  So beautiful!

We are really going to miss this beautiful view.  Auckland right on the bay will always be a a wonderful memory for us.

Even with the rain and storm clouds it was a great view.  It is hard to say good-bye.

Justin and Lana at the airport.  They had a 10:50 p.m. flight out on Sunday, October 2, 2016.  They have these statutes at the airport of characters from Lord of the Rings.  It says on loan from Middle Earth.

Justin and Lana headed through the departure gate.  We had such a wonderful time with them.  It was hard to say goodbye even knowing that we will be going home in less than two weeks.  They wanted to see everything they could and we went like crazy.  They were such good sports.  We love our family and are so grateful to each of our children who were able to take time out of their very busy lives and come share these wonderful memories with us.

We are so blessed to have had four of our five children and their spouses come to spend time with us.  We have made memories that we will never forget.  We are blessed to serve in such a beautiful land with such wonderful people.  We are grateful that those we serve with have made it possible for us to take some time off of our missionary duties to spend time with our family and be able to learn so much about all the places and things in New Zealand.  Heavenly Father has created such a beautiful world for us to live in.

Until next, time love Elder and Sister Spencer (aka Reed and Nada)